I breathed out slowly. Twenty-nine pairs of eyes looked at me pleadingly. Don’t stop reading they begged. Don’t stop. I flipped ahead a few pages but I didn’t need to. I knew what was coming. If I kept reading today would be the day that Jen would die. Was I prepared?
I knew from conversations that they had no inkling of what was about to happen. Although they had read books where characters have died before, I knew they wouldn’t be expecting this one. This one would be a slap in the face. Some books are like that.
I forged on. They snuggled in, excited at the extra reading time. Children cuddled with each other on the couch, enraptured as I mustered as much drama and emotion as I could without pushing myself over the edge. Just before the moment, the line, I looked at them. A few had begun to suspect, but this would be a shock to most of them.
As I kept reading and delivered the news that one of their favorite characters had died standing up for what she believed in, there was an audible gasp. Then quiet tears. I continued to read, dabbing my eyes. We shared this moment together.
One student began crying a little harder than the rest. She was extremely upset and I quietly urged her to go get a tissue. Several friends got up to give her a hug. I paused my reading for a moment and somehow the class took that as a silent cue. They all got up and rushed together into a large group hug. They came apart laughing and crying. quietly reassuring each other that everything would be ok. Then they went back to their places on the carpet to listen to the rest.
In our class we attempt to find our humanity through books. Last Friday we succeeded.
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